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NYS Governor's Awards for Pollution Prevention - Kem

Kem Plastic Playing Cards, Incorporated, Poughkeepsie


By switching to ultraviolet-fixed solids, KEM Plastic Playing Cards has eliminated volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions and hazardous wastes from its coating process.

Employing a staff of 50, KEM Plastic Playing Cards manufactures solid plastic playing cards for distribution to the gaming industry and retail markets around the world. KEM's plastic sheeting process includes printing, coating, cutting and packaging operations.

Increasing costs of raw material, labor and disposal along with proposed tighter limits on VOC emissions prompted KEM Plastic Playing Cards to investigate alternative coatings.

Methodologies and Procedures

The original process for coating the playing cards used a mixture of pigments (35 percent solid contents) that were dissolved in VOCs (methyl ethyl ketone, methyl isobutyl ketone, toluene and isopropyl alcohol.) After the coating was finished, heat was applied to the cards to evaporate the VOCs into the air. During this time, KEM legally operated with DEC stack permits allowing air emissions of 100,000 lbs per year of VOCs. This placed a limit on the production capabilities of KEM.

By comparision, the new coating process is in solution form until it is exposed to ultra violet light at which time it becomes a solid coating on the cards' surface. The only emissions from the process are the small amounts of ozone that result from the lights themselves. This amounts to 3 pounds of ozone per year.


VOC emissions were reduced to zero, despite increases in production. Potential liability has been lessened through a reduction in the quantities of hazardous materials stored onsite, managed and used.

Economic benefits have been realized by the elimination of hazardous waste disposal costs and cost reductions in heating, raw materials and labor.

Any comments or questions?
Contact us at: 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-1750;
518-402-9469 (phone); 518-402-9168 (fax)

This page was last modified March 8, 1999

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